Starting next semester, students that eat meals in The Underground will no longer be able to go back and forth from Schott Dining Hall. The move is being made to curb students from stealing food.
“We’ve had a lot of abuse of the system where they [students] haven’t swiped in,” said JCU Dining Director Tyson Dubay. “It’s become a little more of a problem over the past semester.”
Instead of being allowed to travel back and forth from The Underground to the dining hall, students will receive a free, reusable take-out container and cup from the cashier when they swipe in. They may fill up the container with as much food as they want, but once they leave the dining hall, they will not be re-admitted without swiping their student identification card again.
Some students that frequent The Underground to eat their meals were displeased with the decision. Junior Hannah Dubyoski cited the lunchtime rush as a reason for her opinion.
“There is absolutely no open table in that entire cafeteria,” she said. “Where do they expect us to sit and eat lunch?”
Dubay explained that there is plenty of seating available in the dining hall.
“We have plenty of seats in the dining room,” he said. “It’s not like we don’t have enough seats. [The Underground will] still be opened up for our bigger themed meals, like for Thanksgiving.”
Dubay said he wants to end stealing, but not as the expense of students that usually eat there.
“There are certain groups that eat up here all the time that I don’t want to penalize,” he said. “It’s hard because I don’t want to take away from the people that eat up there all the time, but I have to make it fair for everyone across the board.”
Junior Student Union senator Jack Kirwin, who sits on Student Union’s advisory committee on dining, thought the new restrictions would deter students from using The Underground.
“I think it definitely would [dissuade students],” Kirwin said. “But I think that the students that eat in The Underground often will still get a to-go box and bring their food to The Underground, because you’re allowed to stuff the to-go boxes as high as you want, just as long as you can get it out of the dining hall.”
Sophomore Joan Yokie understands the need to curb food theft, but she also sees the restrictions as increasing the amount of wasted food.
“I understand the point they’re making,” she said. “But the point that I don’t get is that after nobody eats all the food, they toss it.”
Dubay also said the transformation of The Underground into a soft-seating space for students contributed to the decision.
“We’re working with students to [make] it more of a student hangout place and less of a dining space,” he said.
Students had an issue with classmates getting food in the dining hall and not swiping in, according to Dubay.
“Some students had brought to me the concern about people that were eating in the dining room that weren’t swiping in. Because what would happen sometimes is if a dirty dish was being left on the table, somebody that didn’t swipe in would grab it and go down and pretend that they [had swiped in],” he said. “We’re going to try this for now. If there’s a better solution down the road, we can [look into it].”
Freshman Kelly Sobonya wants JCU Dining to look into using a stamp system, where students that want to eat in The Underground can have their hand stamped to show they already paid.
“I really like eating out here,” she said. “It’s a more comfortable atmosphere for me and I just don’t like the fact they’re getting rid of it.”